ROME — Ukrainian embassies and consulates in six European countries have received packages of animal eyes in recent days, a Ukrainian official said Friday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko wrote on Facebook that the “bloody packages” were received by the Ukrainian embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, as well as consulates in Naples, Italy; Krakow, Poland and the Czech city of Brno. He said that “we are studying the meaning of this message”.
“It’s a very strong signal,” said Ukrainian consul in Naples Maksym Kovalenko, who confirmed that his office received two fish-eyed letters around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Nikolenko said the packages arrived after a package containing an explosive device sent to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid caught fire upon opening on Wednesday, injuring a worker. That was one of several explosive packages found in Spain this week.
Spain’s interior ministry said police evacuated Madrid’s embassy on Friday after another suspicious package was discovered. The ministry said the package was posted from outside Spain and may be part of the mail chain sent to other embassies in Europe. Police investigated the contents and found no explosives, the ministry said.
Elsewhere, the entrance to the residence of the Ukrainian ambassador to the Vatican was vandalized and the Ukrainian embassy in Kazakhstan was warned of an explosives attack, though it was not confirmed, Nikolenko said.
In Poland, a Warsaw police spokesman confirmed by email that a package arrived at the Ukrainian consulate in the Polish capital on Thursday that “caused anxiety” among one of the staff. The police service for the protection of diplomatic missions was informed and “we quickly eliminated the danger,” spokesman Sylwester Marczak said. He gave no further details. Marczak said he was not aware of any such package arriving at the Ukrainian embassy in Warsaw.
Police in Krakow, in southern Poland, did not confirm an incident at the consulate there, but said on Thursday a suspicious package had been identified at a post office. Police said the contents are being investigated, but would not say who the package was addressed to.
In the Czech Republic, police said an X-ray scan found no explosives in a checked package, but they later added that animal tissue had been found in it that had been subjected to laboratory testing.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andrii Yurash, said the entrance to his residence in Rome had been vandalized Thursday afternoon with what he believed to be animal feces. The door to the apartment and the stairs and walls in the hall were “smeared with a foul substance with an unpleasant odor,” he told The Associated Press. He said his wife and son were not home at the time and the police were called.
“And also the diplomatic mission in Italy received some letters containing also very unpleasant things, I mean some animal eyes. I don’t know exactly, but it looks like fish or other animal eyes,’ Yurash said. So it’s hard to fully explain why and what’s behind this terrible message, but it’s undoubtedly a systematic trend. , a systematic attack on Ukrainian missions across Europe.”
In Croatia, police said the Ukrainian embassy in Zagreb called to report that a suspicious package intended for the embassy had arrived at the post office, but diplomatic staff failed to pick it up after the foreign ministry’s warning.
Croatian police have seized the package and are investigating where it came from and what was inside. No other details were revealed.
All Ukrainian embassies and consulates have tightened security measures. Nikolenko quoted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as saying that “we have reason to believe that a well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation of Ukrainian embassies and consulates is underway.”
Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, Karel Janicek in Prague and Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to the reporting.